Sue Johanson - Biography

Sue Johanson was born Susan Powell in Toronto in 1930. Her British father was a decorated war hero and her mother from a well-to-do Toronto family of Irish immigrants. Sue is an only child who spent most of her childhood growing up near Kenora in northern Ontario. (Sue in her teens, pictured left)

After high school, she decided on a career in nursing and went into training at St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg, where she became a Registered Nurse. During that period, she met Ejnor Johanson, a Swedish-Canadian electrician working for Ontario Hydro. They married and had three children, two daughters and a son.

Eventually, the family moved to North York, a suburb of Toronto, and for many years, Sue spent time as a homemaker and mother. When her kids became teenagers, Sue became conscious that they were receiving little or no sexual education at school. Since it was a topic she had always been comfortable with, she offered her services to the North York Dept. of Public Health. Soon, she had established the Don Mills Collegiate Birth Control Clinic, the first of its kind in North America. She realized that she would need more training to handle the job and went back to school at the University of Toronto and the Toronto Institute of Human Relations, becoming a qualified counsellor and sex educator.

The North York Board of Education asked her to do some classroom teaching. Sue's deft handling of the subject - not to mention her inherent desire to be a ham - soon drew the attention of other school districts. They started booking her all over the city, then all over the province.

In 1984, Toronto rock radio station Q107, approached Sue about doing a weekly phone-in sex advice program. That became the "Sunday Night Sex Show", two hours of live radio for the next 14 years. In 1985, she began a local program on community access television, Rogers Cable, that aired weekly for 11 years.

Then, in 1996, WTN - the Women's Television Network - offered her a national show. It turned out to be one of their highest rated productions. WTN has since changed its name to W Network.

In 2002, U.S. cable channel Oxygen Media purchased 26 pretaped episodes of the "Sunday Night Sex Show" and began broadcasting it in January. They soon realized they had a hit on their hands, and subsequently bought all seven seasons of the show. Because the shows were taped, American viewers could not call in. "Talk Sex with Sue Johanson" rectified that problem, a live phone-in show created especially for the United States. (That's the crew, pictured right.)

Sue continues to travel and lecture. She has written three books about sexuality and they are listed on the home page. With her hectic schedule, it's no wonder that her favourite escape is her cottage near Toronto. She spends the summer there, visiting with her family, her two grandchildren, and friends. She loves to garden and sew, and her passion for yard sales continues unabated.

In 2001, the Governor-General of Canada awarded Sue the Order of Canada for a lifetime of service to the country. It's one of her proudest accomplishments.

A detailed biography of Sue's extraordinary life is available in "Nocturnal Admissions - Sue Johanson and the Sunday Night Sex Show", published by ECW Press.

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